After the death of his grandfather, sixth-grader Horace must risk danger to ensure the survival of an entire culture.
A falcon rescues Horace, a white boy in the cover illustration, from the school bully, giving him celebrity status among his classmates. But his joy is short-lived when his mother shows up, telling him his grandfather died of a heart attack during a break-in. In a moment of lucidity, Horace’s normally confused grandmother tells him that now that his grandfather has passed, he must “find the key and help the boy.” Other than those cryptic instructions, he has little to go on. But a stranger gives him a magical figurine that allows him to travel through a portal to ancient Egypt. There, he and his friends meet the soon-to-be-king Tut, thwart Tut’s evil uncle, and ensure that Tut will live to unite the people of Egypt in Thebes. This time-traveling adventure is both slow-moving and lacking in originality. While the history of ancient Egypt seems spot-on, the story itself is slow-starting and sluggish, and its magic lacks rules, bending to fit the plot. Simplistic puzzles and an obvious mystery are further concerns. And in the end, the villains Horace must defeat are more irritating than evil.
An uninspiring series debut. (Fantasy. 9-12)